Monday, March 12, 2007

Raised by a Southern woman

Sometimes my family can't figure me out. What do I mean SOMETIMES? I personally think it is good to be in my early 50s and still keep people guessing. However, I've been thinking of my split personality and I'm positive it is not a mental illness. I blame it on my mother. (How Freudian of me.)

Although I was born in the Midwest, I was raised by a Southern woman. Family legend has it that Mom was about eight months pregnant when she and Dad moved here. I have learned family legends are not always correct, especially if they were told to me by Mom. For instance, she never met my father's parents (as Mom and Dad married in middle age) but she thought they probably had not been in the country very long because they had a German last name. When my son-in-law traced my family history, my paternal relatives were around during the American Revolution. Yeah Mom, they were immigrants. I guess since they weren't native Americans...

Southern women have a way of looking at the world that I find lovely, sweet, and at times...confusing. For instance, my mother had all these sayings we called "Mamaw-isms". She constantly told me I couldn't go in the water until I learned to swim. I was never to run with a pencil in my hand in case I fell and died of lead poisoning. If I left home and realized I'd forgotten something, thus requiring me to return to get it, I had to do some bizarre ritual akin to throwing salt over my shoulder. Mom's idea of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb would be fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried okra, cucumber and onion salad, and banana pudding made with Nella Wafers. Loretta Lynn would be the queen if Mom had anything to do with it. Elvis was the King.

I loved visiting my Southern relatives with the china, crystal, silver (which was never used when we were there, just displayed) and sweet tea (which was served). I loved the way my cousins talked and how both my parents would return home with thicker accents for at least a week. I loved the Southern porches and the hospitality. Not that Midwesterners don't have these things or show hospitality, it's just an art form in the South.

The Southern woman came out in my mother in a very special way, too. Even when she was a widow making $1.00 an hour, she got her hair done every week. If she had to skip lunches, she'd get her hair washed, a color rinse, teased and re-formed into a perfect sculpture which stayed that way until the following visit to the salon. I can't remember some family members but I can remember many of the hairdressers (for there were only a few, hair dressers were like members of the family so one didn't visit another salon unless one was on vacation in another town).

So what brought all of this to mind? Well, for one thing, I'm sitting here listening to Elvis on my headphones and I have a hankering for fried chicken the way mom made it and banana pudding. Also, I was talking to my oldest sister (half sister but we never look upon it that way) on the phone yesterday who always reminds me of my mother (but never tell her that!).

Gosh do I miss Mom.


Anonymous said...

Sweet Post, Brenda. I was feeling quiet yesterday missing my Mom too. It was the anniversary of her passing.
As Mom's, we do so many things that one day our kids will look back at and they will get a smile on their face just as we have ..remembering. Hope so anyway! LOL

You bless my days, Brenda!
Blessings, Patty

smilnsigh said...

I think it wonderful to have had a Southern Mother. I'd love to have been exposed to that lovely, sweet and confusing way of looking at the world. :-))) Really. Really. Really.

Plus, I'd not have such an awful time getting people to refer to me, in that lovely Southern way... You know... The sweet way that 'Ladies of a Certain Age' are called _Miss_ Mari-Nanci. Ding-dang Yankees won't even try to do it. Grrrrrrrrrrrr... :-((((

_Miss_ Mari-Nanci

Jodi said...

Brenda -

I've been reading your blog for a while, but I think this is my first comment. As a southern lady myself, I found this post charming.
I only hope my girls speak so fondly of me in my later years.

P.S. And you know your mama was right about running with a pencil (only it's so you won't poke your eye out). ;o)

Andrea said...

I love Southern memories, too. I am a transplanted southerner up north, and when my mom visits, she always makes us sweet tea and fried chicken! My gravy and biscuits will never be as good as hers. Even though my children were born in the north, I try to instill some of my southerness in them!!!(Even though my husband likes to kid me and call them "yankees"!)

Senkyoshi said...

I had a Southern Grandmother. She was very much as you described. I never ever saw her in a pair of pants and it wasn't for religious reasons. She was a lady and dressed like one, hats and all! :)

Lee-ann said...

Brenda, Hello from Australia can I just say I found your blog page today and have had to read several past posts as they have all been so very interesting and sing the same passions I feel every day.

A simple cup and saucer, I good book or two. A smile and a friend or two.
Your blog is beautiful and I look forward to many visits.

In friendship Lee-ann

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Yes, there is something about Southern women.

I'm glad I have a bit of Southern in me, along with my Midwest roots.

Lallee said...

Your momisms made me laugh.Your post also took me down memory lane with southern traditions and the weekly beauty parlor.

Nancy said...

Ms Brenda, as we say in the south, I love your blog and what a blessing to read this post about the southern woman in your life. I am a southern gal, and my best friend is a northern gal the only diffenence between us is cooking, if I could only get her to use more butter LOL. She is as sweet and lovely as any southern lady. BTW, she moved to the south, thank goodness!! Also, I would love to add you to my blog list, if that's okay. Nancy

Chrissy said...

Hi Brenda...I'm a long time lurker but had to chime in...we Southern Belles must stick together, you know. My sweet Mother was the ultimate Southern Lady and so many times I find myself offering my daughters the same advice about manners, etc. that she taught me over the years. I hope that they will remember me with as much love and respect as I feel when I think of my Mother. Now that she's gone, I find myself craving her cornbread dressing, especially during the holidays. I only half kiddingly say that the movie Steel Magnolias is a pretty good representation of the world I grew up in. (Yes, I'm a child of the 80's and 90's). I wouldn't trade that time and those memories for anything.

I miss my Mother too - every single day. Thanks for sharing your memories.